Thursday, April 12, 2007

The spring practice two-deeps are out

Per the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Iowa has released their two-deeps. First, the good stuff, then my thoughts.

WR - Andy Brodell, James Cleveland

WR - Dominique Douglas, Trey Stross

LT - Dace Richardson, Kyle Calloway

LG - Andy Kuempel, Dan Doering

C - Rafael Eubanks, Rob Bruggeman [EDIT: Bruggeman is probably out for the year after blowing out his knee.]

RG - Wes Aeschliman, Travis Meade or Julian Vandervelde

RT - Seth Olsen, Tyler Blum or Alex Kanellis

TE - Tony Moeaki, Brandon Myers

QB - Jake Christensen, Arvell Nelson or Rick Stanzi

FB - Jordan McLaughlin, Eddie Williams or Brett Morse

RB - Albert Young or Damian Sims, Shonn Greene

DE - Kenny Iwebema, Adrian Clayborn

DT - Matt Kroul, Ryan Bain

DT - Mitch King, Anton Narinskiy

DE - Bryan Mattison, Chad Geary

OLB - AJ Edds, Jeremiha Hunter

MLB - Mike Klinkenborg, Bryon Gattas

WLB - Mike Humpal, Pat Angerer

CB - Adam Shada, Justin Edwards

CB - Charles Godfrey, Bradley Fletcher

SS - Harold Dalton or Lance Tillison

FS - Brett Greenwood or Marcus Wilson

PK - Austin Signor or Daniel Murray

P - Ryan Donahue

PR - Andy Brodell

KR - Shonn Greene, Albert Young

As far as the receivers go, I've heard that Cleveland is very similar to Douglas, and likewise Stross to Brodell. Being that such is the case... why aren't the backups switched in the 2-deep? Maybe it's just nitpicking on my part, but doesn't it seem like Iowa ought to want one possession guy (Douglas/Cleveland) and one field-stretcher (Brodell/Stross) on the field at all times? Why would Cleveland be battling Brodell for a starting role? It doesn't make sense.

Now is the time for Doering to assert himself on the offensive line. He came in as a bona fide five-star recruit, and now he's just got Kuempel in front of him for a starting role at guard. Now, Kuempel's no slouch--far from it--but he didn't come in with All-American credentials either. Both guys are huge--6'6", within a biscuit or two of three hundy--so there's no real worry of inadequacy at the left guard spot. Nonetheless... c'mon, Doering.

Has Ferentz totally de-emphasized the fullback position? His starter is a walk-on who played linebacker last year. Granted, he was pretty good at special teams too, so he's clearly got no qualms about pinning his ears back and hitting the hell out of someone at full speed. So that's great. Nonetheless, the defensive coordinators must enjoy seeing the guys Ferentz is trotting out at fullback and being able to think to themselves, "okay, we have absolutely no reason to think that guy's ever getting the ball."

[EDIT: Turns out the starting fullback from last year, Tom Busch, is unlisted due to injury. For that oversight, I offer this explanation: He's still here?! I was sure he was a senior. Sweet.]

As far as defense goes, this is a make-or-break year for the line as a whole. While it's hard to point at one single player and say they took a major step back on the field--Iwebema didn't struggle as much he just didn't play--the production definitely wasn't there last season. I spent the entirety of last year waiting for Bain to overtake Kroul, but that never happened. I think it will soon. Bain is an absolute terror whenever he's on the field, and while Kroul definitely earned his freshman AA merits, he didn't seem to be anything special last season. Here's to hoping one of them steps up in a big way. Also, Mitch King needs to screw his head on straight. Way too many dumb penalties.

No problems with the linebackers. Glad to see Humpal and Klinkenborg back, and glad to see Hunter, who was the huge recruit for 2006, pushing for a starting role.

As far as the defensive secondary... Adam Shada? Really? Again? Is he seriously one of the two best cornerbacks on the team? Keep in mind, "best cornerback" doesn't mean fastest or quickest; it means "least likely to get torched by a receiver all game long, like maybe what James Hardy did last year." Do you think there's a single quarterback in the Big Ten who's scared of throwing at Shada? At all? Other than that, it will be nice to see the depth chart shake itself out to the point where there are clear starters. I don't know a damned thing about any of the four guys competing for a starting safety spot, other than the fact that they're clearly not demonstrably better than the other guy.

As far as special teams go, there's nothing much to get worked up over at this point. But Shonn Greene at kick returner? What is that about? Is Ferentz thinking that he wants a returner to be able to break a first tackle, or something? It just seems that Greene doesn't quite fit the mold of, oh I don't know, every great returner in all of college football history. Ferentz has lots of track stars on his roster to work with--Brodell, Chaney, Bowman, etc.--why not put one of them back there? Heck, even wunderkind recruit Derrell Johnson-Koulianos has great open-field skills. Why not put him on the field?

Obviously lots of questions going into summer. There's lots to be excited about; Iowa's returning plenty of talent, and that monster 2005 recruiting class is coming into its own. Couple that with a schedule without Michigan and OSU, and Iowa's in great position for a big year. Now, as Ferentz pointed out, Iowa went 2-4 against their current Big Ten slate last year, and PSU played in a January bowl, so let's not go buying tickets to Pasadena just yet. Nonetheless, the future is bright, friends.


Anonymous said...

Some comments:

You're overlooking the returning starter at fullback, Tom Busch, who isn't listed due to injury.

Greene will redshirt.

I haven't seen anything to tell me that Bain is better than Kroul.

Are you telling me that the 2 white dudes are the field stretchers? Somewhere, Quincy is weeping.


Patrick said...

True statement about Greene returning kicks. But then of course, Ferentz has never been about putting speed on the field. He obviously thinks that Greene, football-wise, is the best person for the job. I don't agree, but I'm not coach.

And also like you, I am afraid of Adam Shada. When he twisted his ankle last year (and after I knew he wasn't seriously injured), I secretly wept with joy.

Deacon said...

Every now and then Shada had problems (with guys going to the outside, of all things, according to Earl at HNO), but mostly he's a good athlete who gets himself in the right place, which is important. I know that I saw Shada blow a few in the ISU game that weren't to the outside, but for the most part I would say he's solid.

Deacon said...

Also, I'd like to note that Jermelle Lewis broke one against MSU, and he's not exactly what I'd consider the prototypical kick return. I really don't give a shit who's back there so long as our special teams start looking badass after these past couple subpar years.

Buddy Light said...

Am I the only one that remembers that Ferentz had track star Tim Dodge returning kicks. Now that guy was fast... but he couldn't turn. All he did was catch the kickoff and run straight until he got tackled, he never made anybody miss, and never even attempted to. Maybe Kirk learned his lesson and put a guy with good hands and field vision back there with the idea of a) not giving the ball up and b) possibly breaking one.

Anonymous said...

Cleveland and Stross are about the same speed wise, but Stross has way better hands. In fact, he probably has the best hands on the team, and I'm pissed that he doesn't get a chance to play more. I honestly think he's better than Brodell, insane Alamo Bowl aside.

And Deacon I don't know what you were watching, but Shada was always terrible. When he wasn't getting beat, he was committing PI at a comical rate. He made some picks, but that was because, as OPS said, no one was afraid of him in the slightest and he got thrown at every down. I can't believe I'm going to have to watch him as a starter for another year. And the sad part is, as horrible as he was, Fletcher is probably worse. It doesn't seem like the coaching staff had much of plan for after Johnson and Allen graduated, hopefully this years' freshman DB class (with three **** guys) is a sign of things to come.